For years, megachurches like Hillsong and Bethel have dominated contemporary Christian worship music. But despite recent scandals, worship leaders continue using songs from these influential churches.
A new study by worshipleaderresearch.com of over 400 worship leaders in the U.S. and Canada found that few avoid Hillsong and Bethel songs. Only 16% said they were less likely to use Hillsong music, while 27% were less likely to use Bethel. In fact, most said they were still likely to choose songs from these churches.
According to the research, worship leaders often pick songs based on recommendations from peers and personal experiences. Over half said endorsements from friends on social media made them more likely to use a song. Live events and online listening also swayed their choices.
In contrast, a song’s chart success or ties to certain artists didn’t overly influence selections. Worship leaders appear to trust friends and fellow church leaders for ideas rather than top hits or big names.
The study also found opinions mixed on the pace of new worship music. About 40% felt overwhelmed by the dozens of songs released yearly by the top churches. But over a quarter wanted even more options.
Few worship leaders believed songs were written mainly with churches in mind or divine inspiration. Over half thought life experiences motivated songwriters instead. Still, worship leaders weighed each song individually rather than dismissing particular artists or churches.
The research highlights how social connections shape worship leaders’ song choices, often unconsciously. But personal meaning and community impact remain key factors too. Worship leaders may rely on megachurch hits for practical reasons despite ethical concerns.